Monday, April 28, 2014

Ways to Use Leftover Chicken

So I spend a lot of time blabbing on about how we should all eat our leftovers. And we should. It doesn't matter if you're low-cal, paleo, or gluten-free. It doesn't matter if you're poor or rich. Generally we agree that we shouldn't waste perfectly good food. At least we agree in words. Statistically, we Americans waste 1/4 of our food--our perfectly good, usable food. One quarter. Can you believe it? That is like throwing away 1/4 of the clothes you buy without ever wearing them. It's like paying 200K instead of 150K for a house and then closing off 3 of the rooms and never ever using them. That means that if you spend $400 on food each month, you take a $100 bill and throw it in the trash. Crazy talk, right? Except that's what the average American does with food.

And why?

I believe that it's often simply because the average American is busy and doesn't know what to do with that handful of leftover shredded cheese or that leg of cold chicken or those nubs of cheese or those few spoonfuls of vegetables.

Consequently, I thought I'd spend a little time on the blog throwing out some ideas for how to use our leftovers. We'll start with chicken--meat tends to be the most expensive after all.

1. Stir Fry. A little oil, a few veggies, some soy sauce, and in goes that handful of random leftover chicken (also great for random leftover vegetables).

2. Fried Rice. Pretty much the same as above, except then you're going to add rice and fry it in some oil.

3. Chicken Divan. This is great when you've roasted a chicken and have leftovers, but your leftovers aren't the parts everyone likes to eat the best (surely we're not the only family with this problem). Well, take that light or dark meat, or those yummy bits from the back that can be shredded but not really served as a, well, serving. And make this. I was very surprised how much leftover meat I got off our roast chicken the next day. (This is pictured just above.)

4. Chicken wraps/tacos/burritos. This works well with plain chicken, but it's also nice because it works welly with that leftover 1/2 C of flavored chicken (BBQ, ranch, mustard, whatever) that might not have worked as well in a dish like chicken divan. Also, the nice thing about a wrap is that if you have just a bit of chicken you can still make yourself a wrap for lunch. If you have a cup or two of chicken, you can make wraps for the whole family.

5. Chicken Salad Sandwiches. A little mayo and some kind of crunchy veggie and you're set. But if you want something fancier that your whole family will never ever suspect was a leftover meal, try this Tarragon Turkey Salad (only with chicken).

6. And while we're talking chicken sandwiches... This is THE BEST sandwich ever. And you can totally rock it with leftovers. Again, if you don't have enough for four sandwiches, well, for heaven's sake, make yourself one. (This is the lovely pictured at the top of this post.)

7. Pizza with chicken. This is also a great way to use up random nubs of cheese (yes, I'm asking you to think outside the mozzarella bag--or at least to think of mixing other cheeses with it) or various raw vegetables to very good effect.

8. Chicken Pot Pie. If you don't have enough chicken for a full pot pie, you could make tiny ones in ramekins or make a sort of galette where you plop some chicken and sauce/cheese onto a crust, fold it over, and cook. Basically what I'm saying is that if you add a pie crust to chicken, good things will likely happen.

9. Cream cheese. Yeah, I don't have a recipe. All I know is that if you add cream cheese to chicken, it's a good thing. I bet you could also add other cheese and vegetables, maybe even some rice or noodles. Cook this up stove top or bake it. It'll make you a little magic.

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